In an official statement, it has been confirmed that Prince William is to leave his post as a search and rescue (SAR) Sea King helicopter pilot for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Flt Lt Wales, as he is known in the RAF, has completed his tour with the RAF SAR Force at RAF Valley, Anglesey, after more than seven-and-a-half years of full-time military service, and has chosen to leave operational service in the armed forces. He will instead focus on royal duties, with official engagements both at home and overseas, in the company of his wife The Duchess of Cambridge. Flt Lt Wales, who bear the official title of The Duke of Cambridge, started his full-time military duties as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2006. He commissioned into the Household Cavalry in December 2006 and became a lieutenant in The Blues and Royals before transferring his commission to the Royal Air Force. The Duke started training to become a SAR pilot in January 2009. His previous training included Basic and Advanced Flying training on the Squirrel helicopter at RAF Shawbury, before embarking on the Multi Engine Advanced Rotary Wing course (MEARW) training on the Griffin and Squirrel helicopters, which also included some introductory specialist training on the SAR Training Unit at RAF Valley. The Duke has been based at RAF Valley since January 2010, where he has served as a fully operational SAR pilot. In this time, he has undertaken a total of 156 search and rescue operations, resulting in 149 people being rescued. Since joining the RAF, The Duke has completed over 1,300 flying hours.
An RAF Sea King SAR helicopter pictured during an exercise in 2010 with newly qualified pilot Prince William at the controls
Credit: SAC Faye Storer/UK MOD